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Forgotten Medicine: Squatting and Floor Sitting

  In November of 2007, I interned at the Guangzhou Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), in Guangzhou, China. When traveling in China, I observed that Chinese people, young and old, rested in a flat-footed squat. While our upscale hotel boasted western toilets, squat toilets prevailed in every public place that I visited, including the hospital, restaurants, and tourist attractions. Back home in the land of criss-cross-apple-sauce, I rarely, if ever, saw anyone squatting. To my knowledge, no one was using a squat toilet. I lived in Japan and Korea during elementary school, so I was not a stranger to squatting to use the bathroom. During my China internship, however, I discovered a strange phenomenon: squatting to pee took more coordination than I remembered. Truthfully, it felt a little awkward to sit in a deep flat-footed squat of any kind. An epic adventure in a local shop’s restroom, involving me and a tiny squat toilet, which was located partly beneath a sink and nearly flush with a wall, left me plagued with a question…how on earth do they do it? Shortly after returning to Wisconsin, I became pregnant with my first child. I planned a homebirth with a certified professional midwife. While reading about natural childbirth, I discovered that in traditional cultures, women often squat to give birth. Squatting widens the pelvic outlet and takes advantage of gravitational force.¹ It was on. I began doing squatting exercises regularly, determined to squat my baby out. Ultimately, I gave birth in a supine position, leaning back against the side of the birth tub. Though I squatted throughout my labor, I had little squatting stamina while applying the extreme downward pressure that I found necessary for giving birth. My recovery from childbirth was difficult. Every part of my pelvis hurt: SI joints, pubic symphysis, hip joints, ischial tuberosities. I delivered my daughter naturally, but my postpartum pelvic pain left me strongly considering taking pain medications. Soon afterwards, I experienced a mild cystocele. The symptoms resolved over several months with the use of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy®. At 30 years of age, however, I was a wreck about it. Intuitively I knew that something wasn’t right, and it wasn’t just me. Given that childbirth is imperative to the survival of our species, common sense dictates that healthy young women should be able to vaginally deliver babies without … Continue reading

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